This is a transcript of an interview Matthew Alan Hill conducted with Nora Bensahel for the Women and US Foreign Policy Interview Project at The Institute for the Study of the Americas, University of London.
Interviewee: Nora Bensahel (NB)
Employment position at time of interview: Deputy Director of Studies and Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security and former Senior Political Scientist at the RAND Corporation
Interviewer: Matthew Alan Hill (MH)
Date: August 12, 2011
Location: Washington, D.C., USA
Website profile: http://www.cnas.org/bensahel
General questions about your career [00:16 – 15:52]
Career inspirations; PhD at Stanford University on Coalition Warfare; US Secretary of Defense William Perry; increase of women in senior roles in the military; military men assume women are assistants not researchers; impact in saying term ‘Dr Bensahel’ on male perceptions of employment role; gender and age discrimination by a three star General; RAND Corporation; Women in International Security (WIIS).
Non-gender specific issues and events you were involved in during your FP-related career [15:59 – 38:44]
RAND Update Sexual Orientation in US Military Personnel Policy; Sexual orientation report biggest impact on policy change during career in US foreign policy work; RAND working with Pentagon committee on sexual orientation; Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Bernie Rostker; difficulty in determining the impact of research; liaising with Congress to get reports read by staffers and elected officials; Center For a New American Security (CNAS); role of catchphrases in propagation of research ideas; CNAS report on US foreign policy for the US Congress Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction; Lieutenant General Dave Barno.
Experiences and knowledge of US engagement with gender issues in foreign policy [38:45 – 60:09]
Gender and counter-insurgency; population security; military and promotion of gender equality; General Petraeus and counter-insurgency strategy in Iraq; difficulties of male US military personnel engaging with women in Afghanistan; Marine Female Engagement Teams; failures of US military Commander’s Emergency Relief Program (CERP) in Iraq; impact of short combat tours of duty on CERP projects; military aspect to promoting education, water and gender rights; gender as a value and an interest; role of interests in US support for protestors in Egypt but not in Bahrain during Arab Spring; US Fifth Fleet in Bahrain; promoting women’s rights in Saudi Arabia versus oil security; Secretary Clinton and promoting women’s rights.
Views on recent US foreign policy related issues [60:10 – 69:34]
Obama political speech on Afghanistan; pre-briefing at White House; US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan; why leave 67,000 troops in Afghanistan if you’ve already won the war against the insurgents.